Northern Ireland’s top ploughmen have returned home from the 61st World Ploughing Contest in Bordeaux, France. Northern Ireland had two competitors; 2008 World Champion, Samuel Gill from Listooder Ploughing Society, and Adrian Jamison, Ballycastle Ploughing Society, who was competing at the World Contest for the first time. While both missed out on medals this year, Adrian, who finished 6th, picked up the best result by a competitor in the reversible class taking part at the world contest for the first time. Samuel finished just outside the 10 team in the conventional class. The NI team, sponsored by Donnelly Group & JB Tyres, also included Allen McNally, from Ballyboley, as coach; Wilson Holden, Kilroot, as judge; and William King, Coleraine, as World Board Representative. As well as dozens of supporters from Northern Ireland, they were joined by competitors and affiliates from over 30 countries for “Les Terres de Jim” a celebration of French agriculture, organised by the French Young farmers, and enjoyed by over 200,000 visitors. A 10 programme was organised for all affiliates to experience and enjoy French agriculture, cuisine and culture.
Both competitors qualified at the International Ploughing Championships in Bushmills last October and had spent most of the year planning logistics of getting equipment to the South of France. The team spent a week in Bordeaux practicing and acclimatising to local conditions in high temperatures and but perfect conditions for ploughing. Over 650 acres was at the World Ploughing Organisation’s disposal on flat plains and moist, loose, sandy soil.
The first day of competition was held on stubble land and the standard was extremely high. In the reversible class, it was the Swiss competitor who took a clear lead into the final day’s competition ahead of Andrew Mitchell from Scotland, and John Whelan from Co Wexford. Adrian had ploughed a very good plot, finishing in 8th. Although he didn’t pick up a medal, finishing only 12 points from the bronze medal position, he knew there was plenty to plough for on Day 2. Adrian said “There were a couple of aspects that I was wanting to improve on for day 2 but overall I was pleased with my first day’s performance”.
In the conventional class on Day 1, the winner looked as if it would come from France, Ireland or Scotland, with Samuel finishing in 8th place. Samuel said “When you compete against the top ploughmen in the world it’s a challenge but even though it was my 5th time competing at a World Contest. It is probably the hardest world contest I ever ploughed at due to the heat and the very high standard of ploughing in loose, sandy, irrigated soil showing every little mistake. On the first day I ploughed a good plot but I lost some points as there was loose stubble showing. On Day 2, grassland competition, the standard was even higher. I ploughed a really good plot and was disappointed to finish outside the top 10.”
In the reversible class on Day 2, Adrian got off to a great start to claw back some points and maintained his performance for the remainder of his plot to claim a very credible 6th overall, and top prize for a competitor taking part at the World Contest for the first time.
The Golden Plough did return back to the Island of Ireland this year with Eamonn Tracey, Co Carlow, winning the conventional title for the first time. The result was celebrated on both sides of the Irish border given Eamonn and his father John had finished runner-up at the World Contest on no less than 8 occasions. Andrew Mitchell Jnr, from Scotland, won the silver medal with Fabian Landre from France taking the bronze medal. In the reversible class, Andrew Mitchell Snr, from Scotland, took the top prize from John Whelan, Republic of Ireland, and Beat Sprenger, Switzerland in the bronze position.
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NI Team Practice in France
NI Team load up for France
Mr Wilson Holden, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association, and was part of the judging panel at this year’s contest, said “Competition at this year’s contest was very high and our men did Northern Ireland proud with their performance. They have put a lot of effort in to get to Bordeaux to compete at that level and while they will be disappointed not to get a medal, it was great to see Adrian being awarded for best new comer.”
Mr William King, President of the NIPA “On behalf of our association we want to congratulate both of our members on their excellent performance. We also convey best wishes to both gold medal winners, Andrew Mitchell from Scotland and in particular to Eamonn Tracey from Republic of Ireland. The Tracey family are fantastic ambassadors for ploughing and it was great to see Eamonn lift the trophy for the first time. With the National Ploughing Championships taking place in Stradbally, Co Laois next week we wish Anna May McHugh and her committee another successful championships.”
Donnelly & Taggart, sponsors of the NI World Ploughing Team send a message of support the team.
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